Through English Doorways

An old friend, now of Norway, has been visiting England.

She sent a photograph of an ancient Westminster Abbey doorway.


Photograph by Debbie Pederson

I was inspired by her photograph of carefully wrought iron and oak.

So I revisited the photographs from last spring’s trip to England.

Revisited, looking for doors.

At first, I just wanted a door photo to send back to Debbie.

I found an ancient English abbey door photo, which I sent to Debbie, at her home in Norway.

The door is cradled in an exquisitely carved doorway entrance.


A mighty and ornate arch made of Cotswold stone. Main entrance to Malmesbury Abbey.

The door framed by the doorway is not huge.

But it’s old, old, old.


How many hands have held this handle? How many times have keys entered those keyholes?

Generations on generations have gone through this door.


Look at all the carefully crafted repairs.

Near the Malmesbury Abbey were the Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens.

There were some good doors there, too.


Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens doorway.


Another Malmesbury Abbey House Gardens doorway.

Some garden doors are utterly simple.


Garden door at a Cotswolds manor house.

Some simple doors are not quite so simple.


Great stone chimneys and an ancient yew reflect in the glass of a lunette that dominates a Cotswolds stable door.

Next to the stable you will find a manor house front door.


Cotswolds manor house front door, gone to the dogs.

If you walk through this door, directly across the hall is another door.

Unlock if necessary, pull the bolt, lift the latch, and open the door.


The manor’s heavy door to the SE garden. Two layers of oak, held together with clinched nails. (The bolts are for the wrought iron hinges.)  Doornails are long, about one and a half times longer than the layers of wood they go through. After you beat the nail through, you bend the projecting end down flat. A nail so bent is said to be “dead”. Build a door with fasteners so clinched, and you have a door almost impossible to take apart. You’ve heard the phrase “deader than a doornail”? The phrase is old, old — 13th century or even older. Back then it might have been spelt “ded as a dore-nayl”.

Turn around.

Admire the door and its cut stone frame.


A young columbine finds a niche in a crack between the old stone paver tiles.

Now, turn around, and look out to the garden.


A late-tulips time of year morning.

You could go back centuries, back to some long-gone May morning, and see this very sight, in the same light.


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